Driver Safety Program and
Sisters of Mercy
Regional Community of Chicago
Driver Safety Program and Procedures diagnoses, vision problems, hearing loss, limited mobility, or any condition that
Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Chicago causes loss of consciousness or involuntary motion require honest personal
assessment and consultation with others in determining if and when a sister-driver
may safely resume driving. In addition, drivers need to be cautious about
Introduction prescription and over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness. Drug interactions,
especially between prescription and non-prescription drugs (including herbal
Driving is a privilege conferred by the state in the form of a driver’s license and medications), can affect alertness and one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
recognized by the regional community in the use of a community-owned and insured
vehicle. Just as the state expects drivers to obey relevant laws and rules of the road, Performance is the third key consideration affecting decisions about driving. A
so the regional community expects sister-drivers to cooperate with procedures record of several accidents or moving traffic violations, as well as illegal actions
designed to safeguard and serve the common good. involving driving, may lead to the immediate termination of driving privileges,
temporarily or permanently.
The central purpose of this “Driver Safety Program and Procedures” is to help each
sister to drive for as long as possible within the primary consideration for all drivers
– their personal safety and the safety of others. For sister-drivers, this concern for Driver Qualification and Responsibilities
safety comes in the context of community and the realization that the actions of Each Sister of Mercy driver is expected to have a valid license issued by the state in
individuals may have consequences for the entire community. which she resides. She is expected to be familiar with and comply with the rules of
the road as set forth by her home state. Sister-drivers are responsible to have their
Realities driver’s license with them whenever they drive and to renew it in accord with the
relevant state’s legal requirements and procedures. Sister-drivers are also expected
Through the years, our regional community has been blessed with good drivers who to comply with vehicle licensure and maintenance regulations set by the state in
take responsibility for observing traffic laws, cooperating with community which they reside.
procedures, and attending to vehicle maintenance. However, we need to take
reasonable precautions in order to maintain this record of safety, continue to qualify Within these general parameters, there are specific responsibilities which include,
for insurance coverage, and avoid possible lawsuits. but are not limited to the following. Sister-drivers in the Chicago Regional
Community are responsible
Age, health, and performance are the key factors influencing driver safety. Studies
indicate that aging plays a critical part in decisions about whether to continue, limit, to obtain and maintain a valid driver’s license;
or cease driving. This is true because aging affects key abilities related to driving – to remain informed about and to comply with traffic rules and automobile
vision, hearing, physical reflexes, and mental attentiveness. Vision acuity declines safety requirements, including the wearing of seat belts by all occupants;
and sensitivity to light glare increases with age. Hearing loss accompanies aging.
Age lengthens the time it takes the brain to process information and makes it harder to retain in the vehicle they use those papers (e.g. insurance card, copy of the
to ignore distractions. Drivers aged 55 and over are involved in more accidents per vehicle registration, etc.) required by the state in which they reside;
mile than those aged 30-54, and the number of accidents per mile rises sharply at to comply with state and local regulations regarding vehicle licenses and
about age 75. stickers, emissions tests, and other relevant matters;
Health is a second critical factor in temporary and permanent decisions about
whether to continue, limit, or cease driving. Major surgeries, certain disease
to review the accident procedures information and to retain, for immediate
use as needed, the insurance identification card – both of which are provided
annually to all sister-drivers by the Regional Community;
to report accidents, as mandated by law and congregational procedures, to the
police and to the person designated by the Regional Community (see next
to maintain the vehicles they use in accord with their vehicle’s manual,
thereby providing for both safety and optimal use;
to limit the use of their vehicle to other sister-drivers or, when an emergency For their own protection and for the protection of the Regional Community, as well
or some other occasion warrants it, only to legally qualified and generally as for the purpose of complying with legal and insurance requirements, sister-drivers
safe drivers personally known to the sister-driver; are required to report all accidents.
to seek and comply with the advice of physicians regarding temporarily or Never leave the scene of an accident until the exchange of basic information,
permanently restricted driving because of various health concerns; as outlined on the insurance card carried by each sister-driver, has been
to exercise concern for personal safety, the safety of others, and the good of
the community in assessing their own driving ability and limiting their A police report should be filed in accord with state law (in Illinois, this means
driving in accord with changing circumstances of health, vision, agility, or within 10 days) whenever an accident involves another vehicle, other
mental alertness; persons, public property, or any property not belonging to the Sisters of
Mercy, Regional Community of Chicago.
to consult with regional leadership regarding the sale or purchase of an
automobile for their use. In addition, sister-drivers are required to report all accidents to the person
designated by the Regional Community. (Currently, that person is Ms.
Loretta Tulke or, in her absence, Sister Mary Golden.)
The process of taking an accident report from a sister-driver includes an interview
that ascertains the circumstances of the accident, including driver responsibility or
fault; advising the sister-driver; and compiling a written report for the Regional
Community’s driver files. Ms. Tulke or Sr. Mary will report the accident to the
insurance company. (In cases, such as a weekend occurrence where the sister-driver
reports the accident to the insurance company directly, she still needs to report it to
Ms. Tulke as soon as possible.) Sister-driver accident reports are reviewed
periodically (or immediately, if necessary) in order to address safety concerns raised
by specific circumstances (nature of the accident, repeat occurrence, concern about
the driver, etc.)
Lifelong Driver Safety Vision problems such as cataract, glaucoma, or macular degeneration;
To meet their responsibilities for safety and the common good, sister-drivers cooperate Significant hearing loss;
with the driver safety procedures established by the Regional Community of Chicago. Any condition involving seizures, loss of consciousness, recurrent
a. All: In even-numbered calendar years, each sister-driver will receive a self- dizziness, limited mobility, or involuntary motion.
assessment form by which to evaluate her driving. If a sister-driver does not wish to comply with these procedures or if the
b. Age 70: During the calendar year when a sister-driver becomes 70, she will results of medical and/or driving evaluations indicate serious problems, a
take a driving refresher course selected from the list maintained by the sister-driver may be required to stop driving.
Regional Center. Annual notices from the Regional Center will provide a e. Performance: Sister-drivers with poor driving performance may be asked
reminder to the appropriate sister-drivers. by the Regional Leadership Team or their designate to take a driving
c. Age 75+: During the calendar year when a sister-driver becomes 75 and refresher course, to participate in a professional driving evaluation, or to take
every two years thereafter, she will participate in an evaluation of her driving appropriate medical tests. In these situations, a sister-driver may be asked to
conducted by a professional agency identified by the Regional Center. authorize release of her state motor vehicle record to the Regional
Annual notices from the Regional Center will provide a reminder to the Community. If a sister-driver does not wish to comply with these procedures
appropriate sister-drivers. The Regional Center will cover the cost of this or if her driving record or the results of medical and/or driving evaluations
evaluation. indicate serious problems, a sister-driver may be required to stop driving.
Other situations that may indicate the need for a refresher course, a
d. Health: At any age, a sister-driver with serious medical conditions professional medical or driving evaluation, or an immediate termination of
(temporary or permanent) should consult with her physician about her ability driving privileges include the following, although this is a non-exhaustive
to drive safely. Serious conditions such as those outlined below may also list:
prompt the Regional Leadership Team or their designate to request a medical Three moving violations within three years;
consult or a driving evaluation. Conditions known to adversely affect driver
safety include, but are not limited to, the following, unless or until a Three or more accidents within three years;
physician attests that surgical recovery has reached an appropriate stage or Two accidents in which the sister-driver was at fault within two years.
that these diseases or conditions are under control through medication or
other compensating means (e.g., hearing aids, contact lenses): Any single instance of DUI (alcohol or drugs), hit and run, permitting an unlicensed
person to drive, driving on a suspended or revoked license, or any criminal charge
Orthopedic, abdominal, ocular, or other major surgeries;
involving a vehicle will necessitate an immediate suspension of driving privileges
Diagnoses of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia including early and further evaluation or assessment.
stage Alzheimer’s disease;
Driver Retirement As a sister-driver faces the decision to stop driving, certain practical considerations
can ease the situation.
Who decides that the time has come for a sister-driver to stop driving? The answer,
in many cases, is the sister-driver herself. This is the best situation, one coming from She should obtain a government-issued photo ID to replace her driver’s
an honest assessment of one’s skills and recognition of one’s responsibility for license. Most local driver’s license facilities offer this service at minimal or
personal safety, the safety of others, and the good of the community. no charge to senior citizens and non-drivers. It is best to obtain this photo
identification card before a driver’s license expires because the driver’s
Often this decision comes after a period of self-limited driving during which a sister- license, if still valid, will provide the proof of identity required for issuance
driver has addressed her responsibility for safe driving by eliminating night driving of a state ID card. Remember that a government-issued photo ID is almost a
or long distance driving or bad weather driving or rush hour driving, etc. In other necessity in these days of heightened security.
words, she has restricted her driving to avoid situations that make her nervous and
The sister-driver and/or her friends can identify alternate means of
therefore more likely to be involved in an accident.
transportation. Non-driving need not and cannot mean staying home. Other
Sometimes, a sister-driver needs the assistance of others to recognize the value of sisters and friends can be alert to offer rides; volunteer sister-drivers may be
limiting her driving or to come to the difficult decision to stop driving. Friends, local available for occasional local trips. Many civic communities have
community members, and others in a position to observe a sister-driver’s ability individualized, inexpensive transportation services for senior citizens.
should express their concern to the sister-driver. Suggestions about taking a safe Occasional use of a taxi allows one to attend to ministry or personal affairs,
driver or defensive driving course may lead the sister-driver to a more objective and some taxi companies offer discount rates to seniors. (See Appendix D.)
assessment of her skills. Conversations exploring the possibility that certain health
concerns may be affecting a sister-driver’s abilities may lead to consultation with a
physician and medical testing/remediation. Overall, “Do unto others as you would
have them do unto you” is a great guide in this situation. Kindness, tact, and
empathy – combined with clarity and truth-telling – can help a sister-driver open
herself to the possibility of limiting or ending her driving.
Occasionally, direct intervention by someone in authority is needed to resolve a
question of restricting or terminating driving privileges, temporarily or permanently.
Such direct intervention usually comes after sisters’ and friends’ expressions of
concern about a sister-driver’s safety have been unsuccessful in persuading her to
take corrective action. An authoritative intervention is generally handled by the
Regional Community’s Life Care Coordinator, one of the administrators of a
Regional Community retirement center or, ultimately, a member of the Regional
Appendix A: Driver Refresher Courses Appendix B: Driver Assessment Agencies
The following organizations offer defensive driving and driver safety courses at little The Regional Community has made arrangements with the following driving schools
or no cost. Generally, these courses are geared to senior citizens, but the information to conduct on-the-road assessments of our sister-drivers. These agencies have
and skills they review are valuable to drivers of all ages. For information about agreed to use our assessment form and to bill the community directly for their
where and when these courses are available in your geographic area, call the services.
numbers listed below.
Community Driving School Community has locations throughout Chicago, its
AARP’s “55 Alive” Course: Phone: 1-888-227-7669 Corporate Office suburbs, and the Aurora area. Appointments at any
Website: www.aarp.org/55alive 381 N. York Street Community Driving School location can be made
Elmhurst, IL 60126 through a call to the corporate office.
Illinois Secretary of State’s 630-617-4350
“Rules of the Road” Course: Call your local state drivers’ license facility for
date, place, and time of local offerings.
Len Scaduto Driving School
Note: Sisters in Wisconsin, Iowa, and elsewhere may find a similar
4957 W. 95th Street
course available from the governmental agency responsible for
Oak Lawn, IL
drivers’ licenses in their state.
National Safety Council’s
“Coaching the Mature Driver” Course: Phone: 630-285-1121
Easy Method Driving School Easy Method has locations throughout Milwaukee.
Appendix C: On-the-Road Assessment Inventory
See following pages.
Note to Instructor: Be familiar with the test route and give directions well in
advance. Record remarks as the route is traveled. Check for Satisfactory (S) and TURNING S U COMMENTS
Unsatisfactory (U) and add a comment to explain any U assessments.. 1. Moves into proper lane in advance of turn
2. Begins turn signal at leas 100 feet before turn
BEFORE DRIVING S U COMMENTS 3. Checks left and right before turning
1. Uses seat belt 4. Maintains proper lane during turn
2. Familiarizes self with vehicle 5. Cancels turn signal
3. Checks/adjusts mirrors and seat 6. Moves into proper lane after turning
4. Checks traffic conditions before pulling out in traffic 7. Makes U-turns only where permitted
OPERATING IN TRAFFIC S U COMMENTS BACKING S U COMMENTS
1. Drives with both hands properly positioned on the 1. Checks ahead, behind, and to the side before backing up
wheel 2. Looks behind while backing
2. Steers smoothly
3. Backs slowly and smoothly
3. Maintains speed within posted limits
4. Is attentive to all round movement of car, front & back
4. Adjusts speed to conditions
5. Checks mirrors often PARKING S U COMMENTS
6. Follows at a safe distance 1. Parks with relative ease
7. Anticipates actions of others 2. Checks for pedestrians & traffic before pulling out of
8. Drives in appropriate lane and does not weave in parking place
9. Turns to check blind spot before changing lanes
PHYSICAL ABILITIES S U COMMENTS
10. Watches for low-profile vehicles (bikes,
motorcycles) 2. Hearing
11. Moves out of other drivers’ blind spots (cars and 3. Mobility
trucks) 4. Reflexes
12. Uses appropriate defensive driving strategies 5. Attentiveness
13. Controls speed, able to stop within sight distance
14. Checks ahead and behind before changing lanes EXPRESSWAY S U COMMENTS
15. Signals lane change appropriately 1. Checks ahead and behind to merge into traffic
16. Allows ample space in changing lanes 2. Signals merge & lane changes
3. Maintains appropriate speed
INTERSECTIONS S U COMMENTS 4. Follows at a safe distance
1, Yields right of way to others – pedestrians and 5. Uses good judgment in deciding to pass
6. Turns to check blind spot before merging or changing lanes
2. Allows adequate distance to vehicle ahead
7. Allows ample space before cutting back into lane
3. Brings vehicle to a full stop
8. Makes pass safely
4. Obeys traffic signs and signals
9. Uses appropriate defensive driving strategies
5. Stops behind crosswalk or sign
6. Checks cross traffic before entering intersection
APPENDIX D: ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION
Sister _________________ reported to me (instructor) that she restricts her driving
in the following ways: No night driving; No expressway driving; Chicago Area Aurora Area Milwaukee Area
Driving in local area only; No rush hour driving; No or limited left hand City Bus CTA/RTA Pace Milwaukee County
turns; Other ___________________ 312-836-7800 847-836-7000 Transit
SUMMARY Metra Trains Metra Metra
These are my key observations and recommendations, based on this on-the-road Senior/Handicapped Dial-A-Ride Dial-A-Ride Transit Plus
assessment. Services 847-364-7223 8 AM – 4:30 PM (County wide)
1 week in advance 630-892-1999 414-343-1700
Observations Taxi Cabs Yellow Cab Montgomery Cab American Cab
Ask about senior 312-829-4222 (most reputable) ($2.50 each way)
citizen discount 630-844-9778 414-220-5000
Individual Safety Recommendations rates or coupons.
Mercy Volunteers Local sisters and associates are often willing to provide a
ride for events that they’d be attending themselves or for
an occasional outing.
Overall Recommendation re: Sister ___________________ safety & skill as a driver. Contact Sister Maria O’Leary (773-779-6011 x27) for
Driver’s full name current information on sisters/associates who have
volunteered as occasional drivers.
Sisters of Mercy of the America
Regional Community of Chicago
10024 South Central Park Avenue
Chicago, IL 60655-3132
Adapted, with permission, from the SSSF inventory